Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dave Regan Wins Reelection with Votes from Just 3% of Union’s Members

Last week, Dave Regan was declared the winner of SEIU-UHW’s internal election after winning the votes of just 3% of SEIU-UHW’s members. 

Of the union’s 86,512 members, Regan received votes from 2,916 members while his two challengers together collected about 1,000 votes.

Here are the vote totals for the election, according to SEIU-UHW’s website:

Total eligible voters: 86,512
Dave Regan: 2,916 votes
Niko Anagnostopoulos: 511 votes
Cartina Price: 469 votes

Regan’s vote totals dropped from approximately 8,000 in 2014 to just 2,916 in 2017. At the same time, Regan’s challengers collected about the same numbers of votes in 2017 as they did in 2014 – approximately 1,000.

In the run-up to the election, Regan campaigned around California by attending monthly steward council meetings at multiple hospitals. Regan’s efforts may have been prompted by the support shown for one of his challengers, a rank-and-file Kaiser Permanente member named Niko Anagnostopoulos who won the unanimous backing of the steward council at his hospital, which is one of Kaiser’ largest.

During his speeches to steward council meetings at Kaiser hospitals, Regan reportedly said he wants to negotiate a 10-year labor contract with Kaiser during the partnership unions’ negotiations next year. In California’s hospital industry, union contracts are typically two to four years in duration.

Interestingly, at St. Francis Medical Center in Los Angeles, Regan’s slate of candidates (the so-called “Healthcare Justice” slate) lost elections for seats on SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board. Independent candidates beat Regan’s slate by more than a two-to-one margin. The 384-bed hospital is part of Verity Health System, formerly the Daughters of Charity Health System.

In 2015, Regan negotiated massive cuts for workers at St. Francis and other Verity hospitals, including freezing workers’ wage scales, eliminating benefits for many part-time workers, and multiple other cuts. Next, Regan used a system of ramrod membership votes to ratify his give-backs to the four-profit company. SEIU-UHW members called Regan’s contract “the worst contracting or history.”

Facebook post by one of Regan's challengers following the vote count.

What’s next?

It’s unclear whether Regan intends to serve out the full three years of his next term of office.

In December 2015, Regan told a meeting of the SEIU-UHW’s Executive Board he would not run for re-election, according to board members who attended the meeting. Regan said he was backing the director of SEIU-UHW’s Kaiser Division, Chokri Bensaid, to succeed him.

As the election approached, however, Regan suddenly declared his candidacy. 

Some observers speculate he ran for reelection because he was concerned that Bensaid could not win a contested election. According to these observers, it’s possible Regan will resign his position during his next term of office so that Bensaid can be appointed by the union’s Executive Board as his successor.

Stay tuned.